Vijay Iyer, The City Champs, Joe Chambers and More: New Release Cheat Sheet

If you’re looking for some great new music to discover this weekend, look no further than our weekly New Release Cheat Sheet. This week, we bring you new music from The City Champs, the Vijay Iyer Trio, Joe Chambers and more.


New Music and Videos

The City Champs, “Lockdown City” (Song premiere)

Acclaimed Memphis-based organ trio The City Champs – former by guitarist Joe Restivo, organist Al Gamble and drummer George Sluppick – make their return after a ten-year hiatus with Luna ’68, out March 19 via Big Legal Mess. “Lockdown City” from the album, completed during a band getaway in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, finds them expanding on their trademark soul-jazz sound and funky grooves by drawing on influences from ’60s psychedelia and B-movie soundtracks. “The title would suggest something dark but it actually has more of a positive and hopeful vibe,” Gamble tells us. Preorder Luna ’68 here.

Black Monument Ensemble, “Now (Forever Momentary Space)”

Chicago’s Black Monument Ensemble is a vibrant collective of artists, musicians, singers and dancers led by multimedia artist/activist Damon Locks, bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to uplifting, anthemic and highly animated musical performances. Their sophomore album NOW is out on April 9 via International Anthem and responds to the unrest of recent times. Its lead single “Now (Forever Momentary Space)” is inspired by Cadwell Turnbull’s short story “Jump,” which Locks describes as “an investigation in acceptance and imagining what is possible and taking a leap towards it.” It is accompanied by a video combining documentary footage and photography shot by Brian Ashby at the album’s outdoor recording session and animation by Rob Shaw. Preorder NOW here.


Vijay Iyer Trio, “Children of Flint”

“Children of Flint” is the first track from pianist Vijay Iyer’s upcoming second trio album on ECM, Uneasy, featuring bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Written by Vijay in 2019, the song is dedicated to children hailing from Flint, a town located near Detroit in Michigan. Vijay emphasizes the importance of the composition’s tragic background: “Through gross negligence and systematic racism, the entire town’s drinking water supply was poisoned with lead. Thousands of children in that town, who are mostly African American, have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead, leading to widespread health issues, chronic illnesses and learning disabilities. This piece is dedicated to those children.” Uneasy is due out on April 9.


New Albums

Jeff Coffin and Derek Brown, Symbiosis (Ear Up)

Saxophonist Jeff Coffin and Derek Brown release today their collaborative duo album, Symbiosis, via Coffin’s Ear Up label. (To mark the album’s release, we recorded a new Crate Digging podcast, where they shared some of their all-time favorite dynamic duo LPs.) All but one track on Symbiosis was recorded live with no overdubs in 2019. “They were definitely busy days, but extremely gratifying bouncing ideas of each other and exploring what’s possible with just two acoustic saxophonists stuck in a room together,” recalls Brown. Order Symbiosis here.


Joe Chambers, Samba de Maracatu (Blue Note)

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Chambers makes his Blue Note return with Samba de Maracatu, a nine-song set of original compositions, standards and pieces by Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and Horace Silver. The album sees him playing drums, vibraphone and percussion alongside Brad Merritt and Steve Haines, and includes a guest appearance from rapper MC Parrain on one of the tracks. Order Samba de Maracatu here.


Thumbscrew, Never Is Enough (Cuneiform)

Top avant-jazz collective trio Thumbscrew – formed by Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanex and Tomas Fujiwara – present a new batch of original songs refined as they worked on The Anthony Braxton Project, released last year. Never Is Enough is their sixth album in seven years and sees them continuing to take the simple guitar trio into new territories via unmatched musical interplay and focused forward momentum. Order Never Is Enough here.


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